Braxton’s position switch trims Buckeyes’ QB battle to two

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When Braxton Miller officially announced earlier this month that he would be staying at Ohio State instead of transferring, most assumed that OSU’s much-discussed three-headed quarterback competition was officially on.  Instead, it merely served as the precursor to a stunning yet not all that surprising turn of events.

In an exclusive interview with Pete Thamel of SI.com, Braxton Miller revealed that he will begin not only summer camp but the 2015 season as an H-Back-type player, not as a quarterback.  The hybrid position, which will include copious amounts of time with Miller split out/lined up as a wide receiver, was something the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (as a quarterback) first discussed with strength coach Mickey Marotti way back in April. A month later, he was discussing a potential position switch with head coach Urban Meyer; a couple of weeks later, he was running clandestine routes as a receiver, with J.T. Barrett as the triggerman.

On July 9, when Miller proclaimed that OSU “is where I started and this is where I’m going to finish it” and proclaimed himself fully healthy from shoulder surgery that cost him the entire 2014 season, he simultaneously dismissed talk of changing positions.  Sort of.

“Absolutely,” Miller said when asked if he was coming back as a quarterback. “God put me on this earth … to be an athlete, and the first thing in mind is being a quarterback, and just be smart about what I do.”

Exactly two weeks later, and with the throwing shoulder not as healthy as he needs it to be, Miller is falling back on Plan B for health reasons.  And for the good of the team for which he grew up rooting.

“For the most part, it’s going to be H-Back and punt return,” Miller told Thamel when it comes to his immediate future as a Buckeye. “It’s a long process to get back totally to throwing and throwing every day. This is the smarter thing for right now, God blessed me with a lot of talent and different opportunities. I’m going to have fun with that and still score a lot of touchdowns and help the team out and be dominant at that.”

Miller did, though, allow that he’ll spend 20 percent of his workload during summer camp with the quarterbacks, which will give opposing coordinators on the 2015 schedule just enough to think about when the senior takes the field and lines up at whatever position.

Just like that, though, there were two: Barrett and Cardale Jones. The former led the Buckeyes to the cusp of a Big Ten title and College Football Playoff appearance before sustaining a season-ending leg injury in the regular-season finale, while the latter led the Buckeyes to three stunning postseason wins that culminated in a national championship.

Because of the recovery from his injury, Barrett didn’t participate in spring practice, giving Jones a leg up under a new offensive coordinator. Now that the field has been whittled from three to two, it’ll be fascinating to see if the redshirt sophomore Barrett can close whatever gap the rifle-armed redshirt junior Jones may have opened up this spring.

And, if anything, the position switch may have made this quarterback competition that much more intriguing, if that was even possible.

West Virginia loses ex-Alabama LB VanDarius Cowan to season-ending injury

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Suffice to say, VanDarius Cowan‘s second season in Morgantown after leaving Tuscaloosa hasn’t gone as planned.

In late August, it was confirmed that Cowan would have to sit out the first four games of the 2019 season because of unspecified eligibility issues.  After serving that suspension, Cowan made his WVU debut in the Oct. 5 loss to Texas; a week later, the linebacker suffered a knee injury in the loss to Iowa State.

Tuesday, first-year head coach Neal Brown announced that Cowan underwent surgery and will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.  The specific nature of the injury wasn’t divulged.

Cowan was originally a four-star member of Alabama’s 2017 recruiting class.  In July of last year, he was dismissed by the Crimson Tide after being charged with misdemeanor assault.  A month later, he landed at West Virginia.

The Florida native sat out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.

In less than two full games this season, Cowan was credited with six tackles and a sack.

Weather postpones Game 4 of Astros-Yankees, leaves airing of Ohio State-Northwestern in limbo

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This isn’t exactly optimal.

Due to the forecast of inclement weather, Major League Baseball announced that Game 4 of the American League Championship Series Wednesday night between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees has been moved to Thursday night.  That means Game 5 of the ALCS, originally scheduled for Thursday night, has been pushed to Friday night and will be televised on FS1, with first pitch set for 7:08 p.m. ET.

So, why is news on the postseason of a stick-and-ball sport appearing on a college football website?

Ohio State is scheduled to travel to Evanston to square off with Northwestern Friday.  On FS1. With kickoff set for 8:30 p.m. ET.

The ALCS is airing on FS1 because FOX is televising its newly-acquired WWE Friday Night Smackdown franchise, so a network broadcast won’t be possible for the Big Ten matchup.  More than likely, the game will air on either the Big Ten Network or FOX business.

As of this posting, neither the conference nor FOX has offered up exactly where the game will air.

Regardless of how it ultimately plays out, this will be a huge black eye for a league that shouldn’t be hijacking high school football’s night in the first place, regardless of how few games there are on Fridays (for now).

Wake QB Jamie Newman’s status for Week 8 to be determined

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The defense wasn’t the only side of the ball that ran into injury issues during Wake Forest’s first loss of the 2019 campaign.

An injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder knocked Jamie Newman out of the Week 7 loss to Louisville. An on-site X-ray, as well as other further testing, showed no significant structural damage to the joint.

As Wake looks to bounce back from that loss against Florida State Saturday, though, the sophomore’s status is officially to be determined.

“He’s kind of day-to-day,” head coach Dave Clawson said. “He got hurt at the end of the second quarter. We had X-Rays to try and eliminate the worst thing that could have happened to him and that was eliminated. He was able to return. He’s sore and we’ll just take it day-by-day and see how he feels later in the week. It’s been one practice and we’ll have a better feel later in the week.”

“And we won’t share that when we know it. I don’t have to,” Clawson added, presumably in a middle-school-boy-at-recess voice.

This season, Newman leads the ACC in passing yards (1,772), passing touchdowns (17) and passer rating (160.7).  He’s ninth, tied for sixth and 17th nationally in those respective categories.

Should Newman be unable to go against the Seminoles, Sam Hartman would get the nod.  In relief of Newman this past weekend, the sophomore threw two touchdown passes and ran for another as the Demon Deacons nearly pulled off a stunning comeback on the Cardinals.

Last season as a true freshman, Hartman started the first nine games before going down with an injury, opening the door for Newman to take over the job.

Big 12 admitted error in Texas Tech-Baylor game, fines AD Kirby Hocutt for publicly pointing it out

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An officiating error involving what was ruled an illegal snap but shouldn’t have been during the first possession in the first overtime of Saturday’s Texas Tech-Baylor game could very well have cost the Red Raiders a win.  In a statement Sunday night, Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt revealed that the university had “been in constant communication with the Big 12 Conference office from the immediate end of the game and throughout Sunday regarding the illegal snap call in the first overtime” and that it had “been confirmed that the ruling on the field of an illegal snap was incorrect.”

Instead of an illegal snap, it should’ve been ruled a fumble that was recovered by Tech, which would’ve given the Red Raiders possession of the ball and a golden opportunity to win the game during their first drive in the initial overtime.

Also, instead of allowing the blunder to die right there, the Big 12 has kept the officiating boner in the headlines by announcing Wednesday morning that the conference has, in accordance with the league’s sportsmanship policies, fined Hocutt $25,000.  Additionally, the AD was issued a public reprimand.

For publicly acknowledging that the conference had privately admitted its officials were wrong.

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby addressed the development in a statement.

The Big 12 Conference members have developed policies governing the officiating of our contests. It is vital that senior administration officials, especially the Directors of Athletics, adhere explicitly to these policies. It is very difficult to balance support for an institution’s teams while fully complying with the imperative created by schools acting together to manage athletics competition. On this occasion, the required discipline was not exercised. Kirby Hocutt is one of the very best athletics administrators in the nation, and I am grateful for his assistance and support in resolving this matter.

It should be noted that, in an email obtained by RedRaiderSports.com, Big 12 executive associate commissioner Ed Stewart reminds Hocutt that, “[c]onsistent with past practice, we typically do not publicly address judgment issues.”